Climbing the high road: strategic design and management of New Zealand's human capital and economic transformation
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‘Ui mai koe ki ahau he aha te mea nui o te ao, Maku e ki atu he tangata, he tangata he tangata’* ‘Ask me what is the greatest thing in the world, I will reply: It is people, it is people, it is people!’ The strategic design and management of New Zealand’s economic transformation is a sophisticated and long-term process. Economic transformation is not merely a re-branding exercise, although a forward-thinking national brand strategy could provide the catalyst for promoting the repositioning strategy. New Zealand’s economics performance has always been affected by global events, socio-cultural factors and physical constraints – small population size and distance from key global markets. Therefore, New Zealand cannot compete in ‘low road’ strategies by simply opening the economy to international trade, investment and technology flow, or by providing cheap labour. New Zealand’s economic future will be transformed by significant human capital developments to enable the workforce and businesses to become design-savvy and capable of harnessing and commercialising new technologies, networking globally and adding value to everything we produce that is significantly more innovative and better than that of our competitors. Managing such a ‘high road’ economic transformation strategy is both complex and challenging. Systems and process must be put in place to enable the government, corporations, businesses and universities to work in partnerships and clusters for exploiting creativity, innovation and technology to sustain global advantage. Capability development in creativity, innovation and the judicious use of technologies are the greatest assets for New Zealand’s economic transformation. A rich pool of creative human capital will enable the nation to integrate its products and services into global value chains – thus adding value, forging new competencies, developing niches, and establishing a high profile, national identity, brands, jobs and wealth for the nation. This paper will discuss these forces in details, and highlights the agencies to strategically manage the transformation processes along with the Government’s Growth and Innovation Framework, Sector Taskforces, Country Branding, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, and the bold New Zealand Design Policy to transform an agriculture economy into a design-savvy, high wage and high value globally competitive economy.